December 7, 2017 brianradio2016

2017 has been a pivotal year for the database technologies market, with several massive paradigm shifts that shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. Companies are pivoting away from the traditional monolithic database architectures which, for decades, powered generations after generations of applications in exchange for a more optimized, agile, self-managed cloud-focused data platform strategy.

With the increasing demand for scale, security, performance, high availability, and, perhaps most important, cost and operation optimization, we can identify three significant drivers powering the proverbial “2.0 version” of next-gen database architectures:

  1. Customers are becoming specifically cloud-centric.
  2. Customers are increasingly relying on platform-as-a-service database solutions.
  3. Customers are adopting open source database engines.

Want to validate that your own IT database strategy aligns with the overall direction of where the database market is going? All you have to do is make sure you embrace these principles moving forward. Let’s explore what they mean in greater detail.

The age of cloud-centric databases

Back in 2014, when refocusing and shifting Microsoft’s entire software and services strategy, CEO Satya Nadella coined the “mobile first, cloud first” mantra. Nadella was referencing Microsoft’s new dedicated efforts to mobile and cloud services and solutions. It appears the entire enterprise market was keen to embrace a similar set of priorities.

December 7, 2017 brianradio2016

Microsoft Windows is making gains in the K-12 education market in both the US and the rest of the world according to new numbers from Futuresource Consulting.

microsoftwindowseducationgains.jpg Credit: Futuresource

In the US, Microsoft’s gains are coming mainly at Apple’s expense, not Google’s. According to Futuresource’s data for Q3 2017, shipments of mobile devices (notebook, Chromebook, tablet) running Windows in the K-12 space was 22.3 percent of the total market, up from 18.4 percent in Q2 2017.

Futuresource’s data includes K-12 institutional purchases only, not “bring your own” devices. And the firm measures shipments, not installed base.

During that same period, iOS device shipments dropped to 12.3 percent from 18.4 percent, and mac OS device shipments from 4.8 percent to 4.7 percent. Chrome OS (Chromebook) device shipments continued to grow, hitting 59.8 percent of the US market, up from 57.8 percent.

Windows’ growth here isn’t just on cheaper PCs. Microsoft officials said Windows devices’ growth in the US education market was 4.3 percent for devices under $300 and 8.2 percent for devices over $300 over the past year.

In the rest of the world, Windows continued to be the dominant education platform with 66.5 percent of device shipments to the education market in Q3 2017, up from 57.1 percent in Q2 2017. Chromebook shipments, comparatively, dropped to 14.4 percent from 24.4 percent. Apple’s iOS device shipments also dropped to 6.1 percent, from 8.3 percent between Q2 and Q3 2017.

Microsoft has been increasing its focus in the education space for the past couple of years, emphasizing its OneNote and Minecraft offerings. Microsoft also has made a concerted effort to try to make Windows easier for schools to deploy and manage, and has begun marketing with some of its PC maker partners Windows 10 S devices to educators and students.

As Futuresource notes, many of the Chromebooks initially deployed in 2014/2015 will be due for replacement in 2018. Futuresource also notes that 90 percent of Chromebook global sales remain in the US, though international sales for the devices are growing in Northern Europe and some other areas.


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Chromebooks in 2018: Ready for take-off?

Chromebooks account for a small percentage of the PC market, but shipments are on the rise. Will this continue, or will Microsoft’s Windows 10 S ecosystem halt the advance of Chrome OS?

December 7, 2017 brianradio2016

Even as low-power components and fast and wireless charging take on ever more demanding applications and near-constant usage, the need for more power on the go seems limitless. Stored electricity has advanced from being something that lived in an AA cell to a backup source that can power entire homes.

As such, portable power sources have evolved way beyond little USB charging sticks to products that boast multiple AC outlets intended to compete with gas generators. Many are labeled “solar generators,” although solar panels are sold separately and the battery-based sources charge faster when plugged into a wall.

Nonetheless, there are a number of products that can keep the juice going.

December 7, 2017 brianradio2016

Uber last month revealed a major 2016 hack that exposed information for 57 million customers and drivers, as well as the fact that it paid out $100,000 to the attackers to scrub the information and keep the breach secret. Now, sources tell Reuters it was actually one hacker who…

December 7, 2017 brianradio2016

Apple has published lists of the most popular iPhone and iPad apps for 2017.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the top spots are taken by big tech brands: the top six are Snap, Facebook, and Google, followed by Netflix, Spotify and Uber.

Apple said it has seen four significant trends in apps during the year: the introduction of augmented reality apps and games; the rise of real-time competitive gaming; apps focused on mental health and mindfulness; and apps for storytelling and reading.

Here are the top 20 free iOS apps for 2017 in the US:

  • Bitmoji
  • Snapchat
  • Youtube
  • Facebook Messenger
  • Instagram
  • Facebook
  • Google Maps
  • Netflix
  • Spotify
  • Uber
  • Gmail
  • Pandora
  • Amazon
  • WhatsApp
  • Wish
  • Twitter
  • SoundCloud
  • Google Chrome
  • Waze
  • Lyft

Pokemon Go came in at number three last year, but didn’t make the top 20 this year. Both Bitmoji and Uber are new entries.

In the UK, the top 20 free apps for the iPhone looks mostly the same, with a couple of local variations:

  • Whatsapp Messenger
  • Snapchat
  • Instagram
  • Bitmoji
  • Messenger
  • YouTube
  • Facebook
  • Spotify
  • Google Maps
  • Netflix
  • Uber
  • Gmail
  • Amazon
  • eBay
  • Twitter
  • Shpock
  • Wish
  • Soundcloud
  • Microsoft Outlook

However, the top 10 free apps for the iPad looks very different, reflecting how tablets are used to watch video:

  • YouTube
  • Netflix
  • Messenger
  • iPlayer
  • Facebook
  • ITV Hub
  • Spotify
  • All 4
  • WhatsApp Messenger
  • Google Chrome

The top paid app in the UK is the Official DVSA Theory Kit Test, followed by the 7 Minute Workout Challenge.

Earlier this week Google published its list of the most popular new apps in the Google Play Store with FaceApp, What The Forecast and Boomerang in its top three.

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December 7, 2017 brianradio2016

To say it’s a meteoric rise isn’t too hyperbolic. Bitcoin hit $15,000 early Thursday, just 12 hours after it passed the $14,000 mark, reports Business Insider , which puts the digital currency’s 36-hour increase at more than $3,000. To illustrate the massive growth another way: 10 days ago,…

December 7, 2017 brianradio2016

Apple has added a new post to its Machine Learning Journal that explains how it’s using differential privacy to protect users, even when collecting very sensitive data such as keystrokes and the sites users visit.

Tech Pro Research

This type of data collection occurs when users opt in to share usage analytics from macOS or iOS, allowing Apple to collect “privatized records”.

Apple introduced differential privacy in iOS 10 in support of new data collection aimed at improving QuickType, emoji suggestions, Spotlight suggestions, and media playback features in Safari.

The system works on the basis that statistical noise can be added to data on the device before it’s shared with Apple.

The post, Learning with Privacy at Scale, is Apple’s seventh issue in its first volume on the site that goes into detail about its machine-learning projects and how they impact its products. This one offers a deeper dive into its differential privacy framework and serves to reassure users that it’s not slurping up extremely private information.

It says its approach to differential privacy on the device allows data to be “randomized before being sent from the device, so the server never sees or receives raw data”.


The results of Apple’s massive data collection allow it to see, for example, differences across keyboard locales.

Image: Apple

The records arrive at a restricted access server where IP addresses are dropped. Apple says at that point it can’t tell if an emoji record and a Safari web domain record come from the same users. Apple then converts the records into aggregate compute statistics that are shared with relevant teams at Apple.

When users opt in to share device analytics, Apple defines a “per-event privacy parameter” and limits the number of records that are transmitted by each user per day.

Users can see the reports in iOS by going to Settings > Privacy > Analytics > Analytics Data in entries that begin with ‘DifferentialPrivacy’. Mac users can see them in the Console in System Reports. Apple also offers sample images to show users how the reports can be identified.

Apple has what it calls an ‘injestor’ where metadata such as timestamps of records is removed and the records are grouped by use case. The records are then passed to an ‘aggregator’ for statistical analysis.

The end result of all this processing is that Apple can now, for example, tell which are the most popular emojis, and in different languages, which in turn helps it improve predictive emoji on the iOS keyboard.

Apple can also identify websites that are energy and memory hogs in Safari on iOS and macOS. Apple’s browser can detect these domains and report them to Apple using its differential privacy framework.

It also helps identify the websites that users want Auto-play enabled, which Safari began automatically blocking with macOS High Sierra.

The third benefit to Apple is that can discover new words, which help it improve its on-device lexicons and autocorrect.

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Deep dive analysis: Apple says it will ‘follow the law’ wherever it does business. But questions remain over what happens — and how the company will react — when the laws fall foul of the company’s privacy promises.

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December 7, 2017 brianradio2016

Over the next two years, enterprises are expected to ramp up their efforts to test blockchain technology as part of a new method of establishing trust in a digital economy.

New research from consultancy Deloitte LLP shows a “trust economy” is now developing around person-to-person (P2P) transactions enabled by blockchain technology and not dependent on more traditional methods such as credit ratings or guaranteed cashier’s checks.

“Rather, it relies on each transacting party’s reputation and digital identity – the elements of which may soon be stored and managed in a blockchain,” Deloitte analysts said in a report.

For individuals, the “trust” elements could include financial or professional histories, tax information, medical information, or consumer preferences. Companies could maintain reputational identities that establish their trustworthiness as a business partner or vendor.

December 7, 2017 brianradio2016

PostgreSQL (aka Postgres) is old as dirt, yet over the past five years it has panned out as pure gold. MongoDB got the billion-dollar IPO and AWS launched the mind-bendingly cool Aurora Serverless, but it’s PostgreSQL that keeps having its moment—again and again and again.

Now the world’s fourth most popular database, according to DB-Engines’ multicomponent ranking, PostgreSQL has a ways to go before it surpasses Oracle, MySQL, and Microsoft SQL Server. Yet at its current pace, there’s every reason to expect it could get there.

The question is why? Why is PostgreSQL not just the hottest tenant in the database old folks home but also hot with the hipsters?

PostgreSQL now scales, thanks to Citus

Arguably, one of the biggest innovations to hit PostgreSQL in years made it look a bit less frumpy: native JSON support in PostgreSQL 9.2. Originally it wasn’t very good, but by Version 9.4 JSONB gave the venerable database significant mojo (and heavy-duty indexing).

December 7, 2017 brianradio2016

Xiaomi Mi Pad 2.jpg(Image: Xiaomi)

The EU General Court in Luxembourg, the second-highest court in the European Union, has knocked back an appeal from Xiaomi this week, preventing its attempt to register a local trademark for its “Mi Pad” tablets as the name is too similar to Apple’s “iPad” and may confuse consumers.

The latest setback follows Xiaomi’s first attempt in 2014, when the Chinese brand initially filed an application for an EU trademark on its Mi Pad.

US technology giant Apple had subsequently complained to the EU Intellectual Property Office, which sided with Apple’s claims, saying that consumers could be misled and assume that the Mi Pad is a variation on Apple’s iPad trademark, according to a Sina news report.

Xiaomi’s Mi Pad was introduced in 2014, and has a close resemblance to Apple’s iPad mini products in terms of screen size, resolution, and device materials, according to the report.

A ZDNet review of the Mi Pad 2 said “at first glance, you’d swear it’s an iPad mini” and “a 7.9-inch display with 2,048×1,536 resolution for 326 pixels per inch. That’s exactly what Apple uses for its latest iPad mini tablets — and has since the iPad mini 2 debuted in November, 2013.”

Not only do Apple and Xiaomi’s tablet products look alike, the names “iPad” and “Mi Pad” are highly similar, according to the EU court.

“The signs at issue display a high degree of similarity owing to the fact that iPad is entirely reproduced in Mi Pad, that the two signs coincide as to the letter sequence ‘ipad’, and that they differ only as to the presence of the additional letter ‘m’ at the beginning of Mi Pad,” the General Court said in its ruling laid down on Tuesday, saying that it confuses both English and non-English speakers.

Xiaomi is still able to appeal to the Court of Justice against the decision of the General Court.

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For the price it’s hard to argue with Xiaomi’s flagship-class Mi 6. The usual caveats apply when buying a device that’s not fully vendor-optimised for the UK market, but for less than £400 something’s got to give.

IDC report: Basic wearable devices drop in sales while smartwatch shipments grow (TechRepublic)

Wearables that do not run third-party apps suffered a decline in sales in Q2. Meanwhile, smartwatch sales grew 10.3% during the same time period.

Xiaomi unveils first stock Android device

Chinese handset manufacturer says its first smartphone running on Android One will be available in more than 40 markets including Singapore, Indonesia, and Hong Kong from October.